UNC's music connoisseurs know the typical hot spots for live music in Chapel Hill. On any given night, you can see them floating down Franklin Street, headed toward Cat’s Cradle, the Cave or Local 506. Those seeking live music, however, can find in it a lesser-known location — an on-campus porch.
UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South will host The Whyte Laundry Company as part of their “Music on The Porch” Series on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
The series is designed to cover the wide breadth of Southern music, and has hosted a range of genres in the past.
“There’s such a wide variety of musicians that come,” said Cassidy Hampton, a student who films the performances. “We’ve had everything from bluegrass banjo players to rap.”
The concert will focus on blues music, specifically that of W.C. Handy, an early 20th-century blues musician known as the “Father of the Blues.” Paying tribute to Handy is The Whyte Laundry Company, a “banjo, washboard, and gutbucket” band originally from Connecticut.
The band’s northern origins are a large part of their DNA and central to “Southern Songs By Yankees,” their musical comedy show.
“It started off as a joke,” said founder Bob Whyte. “Knowing how much the Yankees are loved down here, I said, ‘What about Southern songs by Yankees?’”
According to Whyte, there is a long history of Southern-tinged songs written by northerners.
“Yankee songwriters, you know, back 100 years ago were writing some really good songs about the south," Whyte said. "‘Carolina in the Morning,’ ‘Georgia On The Mind,’ ‘Stars Fell on Alabama,’ maybe 20 or 25 more.”
Joining Whyte, along with singer Laura Jones, are his sons Steve and Matt (who played drums with indie band Earl Greyhound), who are flying down to play with their father for the first time in North Carolina.
“It’s fantastic,” Whyte said, speaking about playing with his sons. “We get along well, they love the music and they were big fans when I had the band up in Connecticut. They were always up there cheering me on, so it’s great.”
Patrick Horn, the associate director at the Center For the American South, hopes the concert will provide an opportunity for UNC students to connect with the greater Chapel Hill community.
“We would certainly like to have more students discover the concert series,” Horn said. “We think of it as the university’s front porch.”
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